5 Reasons Not To Be A Short Order Cook  Being a short order cook makes meal times easier, but can create habits that are hard to break in the long run.

5 Reasons Not To Be A Short Order Cook

Being a short order cook makes meal times easier, but can create habits that are hard to break in the long run.

Although my kids eat just about anything I put on their plates today, when my younger daughter was a toddler—and a picky eater—I fell into the trap of being a short order cook.

If she didn’t eat the food I served, or didn’t eat what I thought was “enough,” there were times when I’d pull something different out of the refrigerator that I knew she would eat.

Although this short order cooking made my life a lot easier, I realized that if I made it a habit, it would be a tough one to break.

And more importantly, I wanted her to learn that what I served was the only option, and she could choose to eat it or not.

If you have toddlers or young children who are picky eaters or flat out refuse to eat, chances are, you’ve become a short order cook too.

Here, I’d like you to consider 5 reasons why you should nip it in the bud ASAP.

1. Your child misses out on opportunities to try new foods

The key to raising kids who are healthy and adventurous eaters is giving them plenty of opportunities to try new foods.

The reality is that we can’t expect our kids to instantly love broccoli or take to carrots on the first try.

In fact, studies show it can take serving small portions of the same food 15 to 20 times before kids will even take a bite.

Related: Feeding Toddlers: What, When and How Much To Feed 1- to 3-year-olds

If kids eat the same foods over and over again, they’ll never expand their preferences for new foods they may actually come to love.

2. Being a short order cook is too time consuming

Whether you’re a working mom, a stay-at-home mom, or somewhere in between, life is hectic and you’re exhausted after a long day.

Although short order cooking can make dinnertime less stressful, making one meal for the whole family and an additional meal for your picky eater takes more time—even if it is only opening a package of frozen chicken nuggets.

Something else to consider is that preparing a second meal for your child can also make your life stressful if you have to constantly make sure you have foods on hand that your kid will eat.

If you go to a family or friend’s house for dinner and they serve something you know your kid will refuse, you’ll have to pack foods for him which only reinforces the picky eating.

You start to believe, “my kid is a picky eater,” and will only eat a handful of foods, when in reality, you can’t expect any different when that’s all he’s being served in the first place.

3. Short order cooking creates power struggles

It’s normal for toddlers to be picky eaters and a part of that is their desire for control.

So if you continue to be a short order cook, your child learns that no matter what he wants, you’ll give in.

According to Ellyn Satter, an authority on eating and feeding, it’s the parent’s responsibility to decide the what, when and where of feeding, and the child’s responsibility to decide how much and whether to eat.

4. Short order cooking usually means less nutritious food

I think it’s safe to say that kids who eat separate meals from the rest of the family usually eat foods that aren’t the healthiest.

Boxed macaroni and cheese, kid-friendly frozen meals, pasta with butter, and processed snack foods are usually easy, go-to foods while fruits and vegetables rarely make their way on kids’ plates.

5. Kids may grow up to be picky eating adults

Perhaps one of the most compelling reasons not to be a short order cook is that you want to raise kids who will be healthy throughout their lives.

According to an article in the New York Times, 75 percent of adults who call themselves picky eaters say the behaviors started in childhood.

In the U.S., we’re facing sky-high rates of obesity, chronic health conditions like type-2 diabetes, heart disease and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NALFD), autoimmunity and depression and anxiety.

Not to mention, we have a nation of people who turn to food when they’re stressed, bored or frustrated instead of finding healthy, more effective ways to cope.

Teaching our kids how to eat healthy and have healthy eating habits is important because their lives depend on it now and well into the future.

How Not to Be a Short Order Cook

Offer choices

While scrambled eggs and toast is all you’ll be able to pull together for dinner certain nights, when you do cook meals, try to offer choices.

When kids feel that eating is in their control, they’ll be more likely to make healthy

choices—as long as those choices are offered.

Put out a cooked vegetable and a salad, serve one of your kid’s favorite foods along with a new food, or serve a type of fruit you know your kid will eat—even if he eats nothing else.

Eat meals together

Family dinners may not happen every night, but sitting down as a family to eat any meal can prevent short order cooking.

In fact, children who eat with their families at least 3 times a week are more likely to eat healthy foods, a 2011 meta-analysis published in the journal Pediatrics found.

Cook with your kids

When kids take part in cooking meals, they learn each step of the process and they feel empowered to eat healthy because they had a hand in making the meal.

Cooking with your kids provides another opportunity to expand their palates and try new flavors, tastes and textures.

Stay consistent

Teaching kids about healthy foods and healthy eating habits takes consistency—and plenty of patience—at every meal.

Kids who are picky eaters aren’t going to change their ways overnight—and we can’t expect them to.

It’s also important to realize that everyone has their own food preferences so he won’t love what’s being served all of the time.

Just like with anything else that you have rules about or teach your children, they may not like it but that’s the way it goes!

Did you used to be a short order cook? How were you able to put an end to it? 

Should you raise your child vegetarian?

Should you raise your child vegetarian?

In the last few years, I’ve been an on-again, off-again vegetarian.

I believe that a healthy vegetarian diet can be a great plan to follow but after having chronic anemia and not being able to correct it through diet alone, I now eat meat along with a ton of plant-based foods and as a result, my kids eat the same way.

If you’ve considered whether or not you should raise your child vegetarian, you may have wondered if a vegetarian diet is healthy for kids and what types of foods they should eat.

Read on to learn if a vegetarian diet is healthy for kids and what you should consider before deciding to raise your child vegetarian.

Vegetarian kids on the rise

In recent years, there has been a lot of attention paid to plant-based, vegetarian and vegan diets, with plenty of health websites, bloggers, and celebrities touting the health benefits.

Still, the amount of people who actually call themselves vegetarian or vegan is slim.

According to a 2018 Gallup poll, 5 percent of adults identify as vegetarian while 3 percent say they’re vegan.

And a 2014 national poll by the Vegetarian Resource Group found that 4 percent of kids 8 to 18 are vegetarian or vegan, up from 3 percent in 2010

While some parents decide to raise their kids as vegetarian because they follow the plan themselves or simply because they want to eat healthier, some kids also decide to do so on their own.

In fact, teen girls, in particular, may start the diet because it’s trendy.

“Food is the one thing kids at this age can control. Sometimes wanting to be a vegetarian is a phase that passes for some children, while others are more committed to it,” Tara Todd, a registered dietitian at St. Louis Children’s Hospital stated in this article.

Are vegetarian diets for kids healthy?

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics position statement, vegetarian and vegan diets that are appropriately planned are healthy and provide adequate nutrition, have health benefits that prevent and treat certain diseases and

are appropriate for infants, children and teens.

Studies show that vegetarian and vegan diets can prevent type-2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and certain types of cancer.

The Academy says vegetarian kids are less likely to become overweight and obese, and tend to eat more fruits and vegetables and less sweets, salty snacks, and saturated fats than their meat-eating peers.

Research also shows that following a vegetarian diet early on in life can help to establish lifelong healthy, eating habits. 

Vegan diet for kids: the recent controversy

In May 2019, Belgian doctors from the Royal Academy of Medicine warned children, teens, and pregnant and breastfeeding moms to avoid vegan diets.

According to the position statement, they say veganism is “restrictive,” creates “unavoidable” nutritional shortcomings and, if not properly monitored, could lead to deficiencies and stunted development, this article states.

They even went so far as to say raising kids vegan is unethical because of the lack of animal protein and amino acids and called for parents who do so to be prosecuted, after deaths in schools, nurseries and hospitals.

In response, U.S. doctors from the Physicians Committee criticized the report saying it isn’t based on scientific evidence and could deter people from following a plant-based diet that can improve their health. They also said studies show people following a vegan diet get enough protein, iron and calcium.

What’s more, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says vegan diet for kids can be healthy and safe for infants and children, without lacking nutrition or affecting their growth.

What to consider before deciding to raise your child vegetarian

If you decide your kid will follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, there are certain nutrients you should focus on.

Protein

Although there are plenty of plant-based protein foods, because of differences in the amino acid composition and digestibility, children may need more protein, which may be between 15 and 35 percent depending on age.

Related: 9 Best Meatless Protein-Rich Foods For Kids (+Recipes!)

Iron

Iron is another nutrition kids who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet may become deficient in, so it’s important for your child’s pediatrician to test for iron deficiency.

Eating iron-rich foods such as beans, eggs, soybeans, and spinach with foods rich in vitamin C like peppers, tomatoes, and citrus fruits can increase absorption.

If your child still falls short, a supplement can help.

Zinc

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), vegetarians may need 50 percent or more of the recommended daily allowance for zinc than non-vegetarians.

To increase the bioavailability of zinc, they recommend vegetarians soak beans, grains, and seeds in water for several hours, and allow them to sit until sprouts form before cooking them.

Omega-3 fatty acids

Kids who are vegan or lacto-vegetarian and avoid fish could be missing out on omega-3 fatty acids, the healthy fats kids need.

As an alternative, kids will need to get plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids which include chia seeds, walnuts, flaxseeds and fortified foods like cereal.

Related: 7 Kid-Friendly Ways To Use Chia Seeds

Vitamin B12

Since beef and certain types of fish are excellent sources of vitamin B12, kids can become deficient.

Still, there are some great suitable sources of vitamin B12 such as tofu, tempeh, nutritional yeast, and fortified foods like non-dairy milk and cereal.

Calcium

Fortunately, if your child is avoiding dairy, you don’t have to worry that he isn’t getting enough calcium.

Green leafy vegetables, figs, sesame seeds, soymilk and fortified cereals are all great sources of calcium.

Related: 10 Calcium-Rich Foods For Kids That Aren’t Milk


Vegetarian doesn’t always mean healthy

 

If you decide to raise your child vegetarian or vegan, it’s important to make sure the diet is well-planned.

Just like gluten-free diets, it’s really easy to rely on too many processed, packaged junk foods and frozen foods, and grab-and-go grocery store or take-out meals that are often low in fiber and high in sodium and saturated fat.

Instead, focus on plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, plant-based proteins like beans, legumes, and nuts and seeds, and healthy fats like olive oil and avocado.

Related: 25 Healthy Avocado Recipes for Kids

Since many vegetarian and vegan foods tend to be low in calories, it’s also important to make sure your kid is eating enough to support his growth and development.


Separate meals can mean more time in the kitchen

Another thing to consider is meal planning and cooking and the time it takes.

When I was vegetarian, it wasn’t easy to simply grab a protein and pop it in the oven.

I had to plan ahead and make large batches of lentils and bean burgers, for example, to make sure I always had something on hand.

If your child is vegetarian but you and your spouse aren’t for example, you could also find yourself making separate meals for everyone which can be time consuming.

Making meals in bulk, or cooking with your kids can help.


Get help from an expert

Kids’ diets can include a variety of fresh, whole foods but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re getting everything they need.

If your child is a picky eater, that’s even more of a reason to pay attention to his diet.

You might consider speaking to a registered dietitian-nutritionist (RDN) who can take stock of what your kid is eating and where there might be nutritional deficiencies.

An RDN can also help with meal planning and recipes.

The bottom line: a vegetarian diet or vegan diet can be healthy for kids if it’s appropriately planned and kids actually eat the food.

Whether or not your child sticks with it or not, getting more plant-based foods in his diet is always a good idea.

Is your child vegetarian or vegan? What tips can you share for eating healthy?

5 Reasons You Should Bring Your Kids to the Farmers’ Market

5 Reasons You Should Bring Your Kids to the Farmers’ Market

Summer is all about soaking in the sunshine, dining al fresco and savoring the healthy superfoods the season has to offer.

Just like planting a garden or joining a community supported agriculture (CSA) farm, going to the farmers’ market is a great way to encourage healthy eating and get your kids out of their picky eating habits. 

Here are 5 reasons you should consider bringing your kids to a farmers’ market this summer.

1. Cool, new fruits and vegetables

With several types of green leafy vegetables, and foods like heirloom tomatoes, yellow and purple carrots, and donut peaches, the variety of fruits and vegetables at the farmers’ market is enough to spark your kid’s interest in healthy eating.

Let your kids pick out something new and then learn how to prepare and cook it together at home.

Related: 5 Surprising Benefits of Cooking With Your Kids

Most farmers’ markets also sell other products like eggs, cheese, local honey, grass-fed beef, herbs and flowers, breads and baked goods, and personal care products.

2. Get local and organic produce


Grocery stores sell organic produce, but since it’s picked weeks before it hits grocery store shelves, it’s not the freshest.

Unlike grocery stores, produce sold at the farmers’ market aren’t stored for long periods of time, treated with chemicals that extend their shelf life, or shipped long distances.

In fact, more than half of farmers travel less than 6 miles, according to a report by the USDA.

When you shop the famers’ market, you’re getting fruits and vegetables that are ripe, and picked and sold the same day.

As a result, they’re fresher and tastier than store-bought produce and more nutritious, Preston Andrews, PhD, a plant researcher stated in this article.

In addition, although not all famers sell organic produce, 47 percent do sell some type of organic products.

Although prices vary at farmers’ markets, you might get a better deal on organic produce than you would at the grocery store, one report found.

3. Kids get to meet the farmers

When you bring your kids to the farmers’ market, they have a unique opportunity to meet the farmers who grow the food.

Kids can learn about new varieties of produce from the farmer, learn how and where the food is grown, and for speciality vendors, how the products are made.

Meeting the local farmers is also a great opportunity to get personalized recommendations about how to prepare and cook foods and get recipes.

4. Encourages healthy eating

When you bring your child to the farmers’ market and let them pick out new fruits and vegetables, they feel empowered to make their own healthy eating choices.

In fact, a 2018 study found that when kids were given $15 to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at a farmers’ market, their diets improved.

The kids were also more likely to shop at the famers’ market than those who didn’t receive the stipend.

5. Farmers’ markets are fun for kids

Select farmers’ markets across the country have implemented programs to teach kids about healthy eating and make their visits a fun experience.

Take the Power of Produce (POP) Club at the Oregon City Farmers Market.

There, kids get $2 every time they visit the farm to purchase their own fruits and vegetables, and they lean how to plant sunflower seeds, and make salads and jam, for example.

Some farmers’ markets also have cooking demonstrations and classes, entertainment, and other fun activities, for example.

Do you bring your kids to the farmers’ market? In what ways has it encouraged healthy eating?

6 Best Healthy Summer Eating Tips For Kids

6 Best Healthy Summer Eating Tips For Kids

 

Disclaimer: Please note that some of the links in this blog post are affiliate links from Amazon Associates and other affiliates. As an associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. I recommend these products and services either because I use them or because companies that make them are trustworthy and useful.

 

There’s an abundance of healthy super foods for kids during the summer, and while it may be a great opportunity to get your kids out of their picky eating habits and transform them into super-healthy kids, studies show summer may actually be the worst time of year to make that a reality.

According to a July 2015 study in the American Journal of Public Health, body mass index (BMI) for kindergarteners and first graders increased two to three times as fast during the summer than the school year.

More opportunities for grab-and-go foods at the pool, the boardwalk and the carnival, trips to the ice cream shop, longer, less structured days, and more time spent on devices are likely culprits.

If you plan ahead, make some simple swaps and use a few easy strategies however, your family can stay on track.

Here are 5 of my best healthy summer eating tips for kids.


1. Avoid sugary drinks


Long, hot summer days mean your kids will be drinking more fluids anyway, but what they drink is important.

According to a 2015 poll by the YMCA, about 75 percent of kids drink sugar-sweetened beverages at least weekly during the summer, and about 25 percent kids consume one or more sweetened beverages every day or almost every day.

Instead of soda, juice, sugar-sweetened beverages like lemonade, ice tea and sports drinks which are high in empty calories and sugar, spike blood sugar and may encourage cravings for other sugary fare, stick with plan H2O.

Since dehydration can often be mistaken for hunger—which is one of the reasons your kid is always hungry—it’s even more important that they make a point to drink plenty of water. 

Encourage your kids to drink water first thing in the morning, when they’re most likely to be dehydrated, sip throughout the day and before meals.

If water is too plain for them, add cut up cucumbers or strawberries for some flavor.


2. Take advantage of grilling season

 

When you grill up your hamburgers, chicken or fish, add zucchini, yellow squash, asparagus, onions and peppers which your kids may be more willing to eat because it’s simply a different way to serve them.

Or put out several types of vegetables and let them make their own vegetable kabobs to grill.

When kids have a hand in making a meal, they’ll be more likely to eat it.

You can also grill fruit like peaches, pineapples and melon which make for a  healthy dessert.


3. Stick to a schedule

If your kids aren’t in camp and there’s no set schedule to your days, there may also be less consistency when it comes to regular meals.

Your kids might skip meals, eat meals at different times each day and ask for snacks—all habits that can lead to overeating and weight gain.

Although vacations or day trips can definitely throw off your schedule, one of the best summer healthy eating tips is to do your best to have regular meal and snack times, make sure your kids eat a healthy breakfast, and try to prevent grazing and mindless snacking.


4. Use your cutting board


During the summer, kids eat more vegetables, but they still don’t eat enough, the same YMCA poll found.

Kids need 2 to 3 servings of vegetables each day, but the serving sizes vary by age.

Check out this chart from the American Academy of Pediatrics to see portion sizes for your kid.

Do your best to include vegetables at every meal and snack, which will give your kids the nutrition they need, help satisfy their hunger, prevent overeating, and cure constipation.

The good news is that you don’t have to turn on the oven or spend too much time preparing them.

Kids love bite-sized and finger foods, so cut up raw vegetables like celery, cucumbers, and bell peppers to add to meals or serve as a snack with a healthy dip.


5. Put healthy food at eye level

According to the 2010 White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity report, “children’s choices depend on what is most visible and easily accessible.”

So resist the urge to stock your pantry with chips, crackers and cookies and other types of fake food and put healthy food at eye level.

Spend 30 minutes or so on the weekend to wash and cut up fruits and vegetables and store them in clear glass containers front and center in the refrigerator.

Make individual portions of smoothie ingredients or set aside portions of nuts, seeds and dried fruit that are easy to grab, especially when you’re on the go.


6. Get kids in the kitchen

With more time to spend together, the summer is an ideal time to get kids in the kitchen, which encourages them to eat healthy because they feel empowered to do so.

Read: 5 Surprising Benefits of Cooking With Kid

Get your kids a set of kid-friendly knives and a chopping board and show them how to wash, prep and chop fruits and veggies.

Or make a salad together using my favorite chopping bowl.

If you’re not the greatest home chef or could simply use some pointers, I recommend you take my friend Katie Kimball’s Kids Cook Real Food online video eCourse. Check out her video: 

10 Ways To Get More Plant-Based Foods Into Your Kid’s Diet

10 Ways To Get More Plant-Based Foods Into Your Kid’s Diet

Disclaimer: Please note that some of the links in this blog post are affiliate links from Amazon Associates. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. I recommend these products either because I use them or because companies that make them are trustworthy and useful.

Whether your family are vegetarians, vegans, pegans or full-fledged meat eaters, getting more plant-based foods into your kid’s diet is one of the best things you can do for their health.

Plant-based foods are packed with the nutrition kids need for their growth and development.

Most plant-based foods also have filling fiber to satisfy their hunger and prevent constipation.

Recent studies show plant-based diets are also linked with a lower risk of type-2 diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol and obesity.

When you have picky eaters however, getting them to eat more vegetables, plant-based proteins and different types of grains can seem impossible.

With a few tips and tricks however, you can add more plant-based foods to your kid’s diet. Here are 10.

1. Start small

If your kids already don’t love beans, you’re probably not going to get them to eat black-bean soup, no matter how different it may look.   

Instead, start out by introducing small—even minuscule—amounts like a teaspoon of peas they can munch on before dinner when they’re most likely to be hungry.


2. Blend it up


Every morning, I make this really easy smoothie for my kids and I in my Vitamix: one cup of almond milk, 2 cups of spinach, 2 stalks of celery, one banana, and 1 tablespoon of chia seeds.

I like green smoothies for kids, not as a way to sneak vegetables, but to get a bunch of vegetables and other plant-based foods into one meal.

Making smoothies with your kids is also a great way to teach them about healthy eating. When kids pick what goes into smoothies and have a hand in making it, they feel empowered and excited to try what they made.

 

3. Take advantage of snack time


Kids love their snacks but most kids snack up to three times a day on foods like chips, cookies and other junk food, which nets a whopping 600 calories, a March 2010 study in the journal Health Affairs found.

If snack time is when your kid is hungry and most likely to eat, use it as an opportunity to get more plant-based foods into his diet.

Serve cut veggies with a bean dip or hummus, fruit with a nut butter, chia seed pudding, a muffin with almond flour and flaxseeds, or homemade trail mix with nuts, seeds and raisins.

 

 

4. Put fruits and vegetables in plain sight


Kids will eat what’s visible and accessible so keep healthy options front and center.

Keep a fruit bowl filled with easy options like bananas, apples and pears.

Also, when you get home from the grocery store, wash and cut up fruits and veggie and store them in glass containers in the refrigerator. Most grocery stores also have grab and go containers of fruits and vegetables that are already washed and cut up, making healthy eating a no-brainer.

 

 

5. Serve frozen fruit for dessert

 

Frozen fruit is a great way to get more plant-based foods into your kid’s diet and it may pack more nutrition than fresh. In fact, a June 2017 study in the Journal of Food Composition and Analysis found in some cases frozen produce is more nutritious than fresh that’s been stored in the refrigerator for 5 days.

Serve frozen fruit straight out of the package for snack time or add it to smoothies, yogurt parfaits or overnight oats. You can also blend it up with some almond or coconut milk for a delicious dessert.


6. Re-think recipes


When you do your meal planning, think about ways to swap meat for plant-based foods. Try zoodles, bean burgers, veggie burgers, black bean soup, vegetarian chili, or an egg “fried” rice with edamame.

 

 

7. Try new whole-grains


Most kids will eat pasta and rice but those with whole grains are the best. Whole grains provide vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. Some whole grains like quinoa, (a seed), provides both protein and fiber.

Make meals interesting by switching up the grains you serve. Instead of brown rice, experiment with new types like farro, teff and millet.


8. Make “fries” and “chips”


There are so many ways to transform plant-based foods into foods kids already love like fries and chips.
Carrots can be sliced thin and roasted in the oven. Check out this recipe for carrot chips on Weelicious.

Or try kale chips, jicama and parsnip “fries,” or roasted chickpeas.


9. Make a vegetable hash

 

 

Kids may not eat leftover vegetables for breakfast but if they like hash browns, try substituting grated veggies like squash, zucchini, carrots, sweet potatoes or parsnips into a hash and serve them with eggs.

 

 

10. Think finger foods

 

Kids love finger foods and when you serve plant-based foods, there are plenty of options.

Offer small pieces of fruits and vegetables, beans, lentils, edamame, small cubes of tofu or tempeh, nuts, seeds, and avocado.